Google Changes Search Ad Format For Pharma Brands

Google has announced that they will be updating the Google Search Ad format it offers to healthcare and pharmaceutical brands. This change affects support for pharmaceutical brands with a “black box” warning or those that require adverse event information as part of the ad.

URL architecture for black box brands

As of July 20, 2015, Google will be moving to a common AdWords format that no longer supports an additional line of copy and additional URL for black box brands and those requiring adverse event language. This is an evolution that is optimized for its paid search marketing solution that has been available to pharmaceutical advertisers for the last five years.

An example of how a brand might be using search engine marketing in Google AdWords before and after the July 20th update:

Pre-July 20th AdWords Example:


Google AdWords for Pharma Pre-July 20, 2015

Post-July 20th AdWords Example:

Google AdWords for Pharma Post July 20, 2015

What does this change mean for pharma brands

Brands that are currently using Google AdWords for marketing will need to consider a rewrite of existing creative and landing pages. The pages that the new AdWords Ad link to will need to prominently feature adverse events information for the product. This will require revisiting of search marketing strategies as well as potential user experience and design changes to optimize inbound traffic from paid search campaigns.

Brands currently using paid search programs with Google should leverage Google’s Sitelinks feature that provide several links to content within a product website within the AdWords format. Product managers and agencies should also reinvest in paid mobile search with this change as there is a broader efficiency with this change in having a single ad format for all platforms (desktop and mobile search).

Post-July 20th AdWords Example with Sitelinks:

Google AdWords Post July 20, 2015 with Sitelinks

The changes to Google’s Ad program will have a significant impact on pharma brand website marketing performance as well as the cost of paid search solutions currently used for search engine marketing programs. Expect to see changes in your category as well as behavioral changes for your paid and organic search performance.

Don’t panic

The changes to Google’s AdWords program will affect everyone using paid search for healthcare professional and consumer engagement. Digital media is constantly evolving. Strategist and communication professionals will continue to plan and create strategies to evolve with it.

Facebook’s Native Video Play

Ours is an industry of disruption. It’s volatile and there are few significant companies that offer stability that marketers, in particular healthcare marketers, can rely on for performance and persistency. We are now on the verge of a tectonic shift and broader disruption with digital video.

Native Video for social networks

This year, Facebook has introduced inline video into their timeline interface. The timeline, available to all users on desktop and mobile is familiar to all Facebook users and the user experience a majority of Facebook’s users have. The introduction of video into the timeline is significant. With Facebook commanding more than 40 minutes a day1 for the average Internet user, this new immediate exposure to video for content creators is frictionless and opens the opportunity for video delivery exponentially.

One of the key tactics that Facebook uses to engage users and drive up key performance metrics is “auto-play” video. This is a practice that starts video playing, sans volume, without initiation by the user. The practice causes some discussion about Facebook’s video view statistics, but there is still little argument about the massive audience of the social giant or the exposure a timeline view can provide a brand.

The importance of Facebook’s new focus on video is even larger than video being served seamlessly to the social network’s users. Their newly purchased subsidiary Instagram, also serves video, auto play, inline for its users as well.

The combined effect of Facebook’s efforts in its channels has shaken the online video giant YouTube on its throne. This past month video views on Facebook have surpassed YouTube. As a single metric this can be deceiving: Facebook’s video architecture for both their timeline and within Instagram auto-play all videos. Even without a surpassing of actual views, the impact of native video playback (need to define native earlier) is a massive change that marketers need to be aware of and begin to alter their strategy for.

What does this really mean to marketers? The practical change is to post natively within the channel you are communicating in. Facebook (as are many other social networks) is rewarding users and brands who are using their own built-in tools and services to post and interface with communities. The reward manifests itself in a stronger presence in user’s timelines and being more heavily favored by the algorithm that is used to serve content to end users on each visit.

The argument for native video hosting is strengthened by multi-video interfaces, “channel-like” integration, and seamless mobile integration. Facebook is launching a playlist functionality2 that gives brands a new platform to deliver multiple videos, manage comments, metrics, and paid promotion in a single platform-one that is already installed on over 71% of smartphones (a 18% lead over nearest app: YouTube)2.

There is a caveat: Building a brand footprint on a 3rd party platform comes with risks. Social networks are a volatile space with frequent changes and opaque formulas for users. A winning formula, as the community that you engage with, is a rapidly changing entity. This is the challenge of digital marketing-and adapting to the disruption, being ahead of it, will yield success. Consider relevance and how you can better serve your audience by adapting your digital content to be more meaningful, useful, and accessible. Most of all, create content that the channel audience will appreciate and engage with.

What Matters For Healthcare at CES 2015

CES ushers in every year with a promise of innovative technology and solutions that inspire and excite us. This year, more than ever, CES is a catalyst for those working in healthcare. Wearables, fitness trackers, and an emerging focus on health are putting an increasingly bright spotlight on managing our bodies.

Here are some of the bright spots from CES already:

LogBar is a ring that interfaces with your smartphone to allow for gesture input. Despite appearing as a very novel extension for input, the ring actually enables greater accessibility to devices for those that are physically impaired. There is also an opportunity to leverage the LogBar ring as solution to interface with healthcare technologies in a sterile environment. This is one example of how healthcare technologists can leverage new interfaces and user experiences to help extend the value of communication to patients.

In a much more broad application, autonomous cars from BMW and AUDI have made appearances at CES this year. Both provide novel approaches to moving technology into the periphery of our lives. The assistive technology in BMW’s demonstration moves us towards integration between our health-status in the car and an intelligence that will increase safety for both the driver and pedestrians in the event of someone falling ill or being disabled while driving. This is another example of how we are beginning to see technology slowly relieve the dangers of an aging population in our country and still provide the freedoms that yield a healthier mental state.

CES is showcasing several new phones from ASUS that break ahead of the current market of flagship phones from Samsung and Apple. Although this is not groundbreaking news for anyone in the healthcare arena, it does move the market even closer to one that is “mobile-first”. Bigger, more powerful, more adaptable smartphones will result in more convergence between the tablet and phone markets and a greater focus on mobile optimized healthcare communication and tools.